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Fox News’ Van Susteren Defends Married Binational Gay Couple

11 Aug

Bradford Wells and his husband Anthony John Makk (photo by Noah Berger, Special to the SF Chronicle)

We posted the other day about the tragic story of Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, a binational couple being split up by our federal government. Makk, an Australian citizen has been with his American husband for 19 years. This week, the Obama administration made the decision to deport Makk who was legally married to Wells in Massachusetts in 2004.

In addition to being legally married, Makk is Wells’ primary caregiver through his AIDS treatment. Their heartbreaking story is making the rounds on the internet and was featured on CNN:

http://youtu.be/tgPV8pw05nk

And in this storytelling and sharing of the couple’s life, minds and hearts are being changed. Coming from an unlikely source, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren took to her blog defending the couple in a post titled: “THIS IS CONFUSING: PRESIDENT OBAMA SENDING MIXED SIGNALS TO GAY AMERICANS”

One other personal, not legal, observation…these two men have been together 19 years….do you have any idea how many phoney applications are made by heterosexual foreigners who come to the USA, find a spouse (sometimes money is exchanged), marrying, getting a green card and then divorcing? It is a racket. We sure don’t try and stop those fraudulent relationships/marriages with any vigor. These two men, whether you are for or against, gay marriage, have been together 19 years (and yes, paying taxes!)

Of course the blog post is just a veiled attempt to attack President Obama and vilify him to the LGBT community, but the substance of it is clearly in support of protecting our rights. Minds can change so long as we continue to talk about equality.

UPDATE: After a little research, it seems Greta is talking out both sides of her mouth (which would be an accomplishment as she usually only uses one side). Greta invited John Boehner onto her show back in March to discuss Obama’s decision to stop defending DOMA in court. In the interview, she clearly sides with Boehner and claims that Boehner (in defending DOMA) is “doing the job that the Executive branch won’t do.” So this is just another case of someone using the LGBT rights movement as a political football. Either she believes that this couple should not be separated or she believes that DOMA should be the law of the land. Talk about mixed messages…

UK Gay Couple Wins Discrimination Suit Against Bigoted B & B

18 Jan

News out of the UK today, where a gay couple won a landmark decision against discrimination.

Steven Preddy & Martyn Hall

Partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy tried to rent a room at Peter and Hazelmary Bull’s seaside bed & breakfast. The Bulls believe that their Christian values dictate that two men cannot sleep in the same bed and therefore refused the double-bed room to Hall & Preddy, they said it would be “an affront to their faith”. But seeing as the gay couple was only trying to do what thousands of other couples do every year, they decided to bring the Bulls to court.

Today, a Bristol County Court judge awarded the gay couple £1,800 in damages. Judge Rutherford’s decision read:

“The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow them to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation… and that this is direct discrimination.”

Hall & Preddy were extremely happy with the outcome, saying:

“We’re really pleased that the judge has confirmed what we already know – that in these circumstances our civil partnership has the same status in law as a marriage between a man and a woman, and that, regardless of each person’s religious beliefs, no-one is above the law.”

While this is clearly a case that will be used by the National Organization for Marriage and the like, to say that Christians are being discriminated against for practicing their beliefs, it is the exact same argument used against bi-racial couples who wanted equality in the latter-half of the 20th century. But in the end, equality won out…and it will in our case as well. Congrats to Martyn Hall & Steven Preddy for striking a blow against discrimination everywhere.

Some of you may have heard about the gay couple in Cornwall, England, who sued the owners of a small bed & breakfast who refused to allow them to sleep in a room with a double-bed.

DOMA Separates Families

5 Jan

Every day before he left for work, Richard Dennis would kiss his partner on the forehead as he slept, knowing each kiss could be their last.

Let that sink in.

That line comes from an AOL news article about Richard and his partner Jair Izquierdo, who was just deported back to Peru after immigrating to the US legally five years ago.  Every day the couple lived in fear that that day might come despite their having obtained a civil union in New York state. When the day finally came they hauled Jair off in handcuffs like a criminal.

You see, there simply is no civil protection for bi-national same-sex couples. Even in the six states that currently recognize same-sex marriage, for them, the threat of deportation looms large.

Take the story of Joshua Vandiver and Henry Velandia, a married couple in New Jersey fighting to stay together.

These Americans face the most blatant and cruel aspects of a federal government that refuses to recognize their relationships and callously rips them apart, all in the name of “protecting family values”.  For Richard and Jair the Defense of Marriage Act is no abstract concept. Jair might never be coming back to America.  No legitimate path exists under current law to bring them back together on American soil and that tragedy is all due to DOMA.

For many, Marriage Equality is a social justice issue. Many couples desperately need protections under the law such as the right to Immigration Equality.

The next time you have a conversation with anyone, gay or straight, that doesn’t support Marriage Equality tell them these stories. Ask them if their family deserves to be torn apart because of who they are.

Purpose.com Goes ALL OUT for Equality

8 Dec

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a launch party for one of the most exciting campaigns I’ve seen for LGBT Equality.

We have spent years in this country fighting hard for our equality and to see how far we’ve come when we take a step back and gain a little perspective, it’s astounding. All Out, a new campaign brought to us by the progressively-minded Purpose.com, promises to give us just that – perspective.

All Out has the potential to be one of the most important international LGBT campaigns we have. From their offices:

In 2011 and beyond All Out will be rolling out a variety of creative campaigns and interventions to push the cultural needle towards greater LGBT equality and self-determination, as well as hard-hitting campaigns that will challenge human rights abuses against LGBT communities and individuals around the world. The more support we can build up now, the more wind we’ll have behind our sails when All Out starts running campaigns in 2011.

76 countries make it a crime to be gay or transgender, and in 10, you can still be sentenced to death or life in prison. In many others—including the United States—the ability to work, raise a family and love who you choose free from the threat of violence or state sanctioned discrimination is still a distant reality. History is slowly moving in the direction of greater equality. Let’s work together to push that change forward, faster.

Please watch this incredible launch video they’ve put together and visit their site and facebook page to start getting updates on their great work and find out how you can get involved!

Enjoy some photos from last week’s All Out Launch Party at Purpose.com’s new offices!

Jeremy Heimans

Jeremy Heimans, CEO & Co-Founder and Andre Banks of Purpose.com

Brian Ellner and Jeremy Heimans

Joseph Huff-Hannon and Wesley Adams of Purpose.com

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, TalkAboutEquality.com

26 Year-Old Gay Man Stabbed to Death in Jamaica

5 Dec

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, a member of Jamaica’s only LGBT advocacy group was found stabbed to death in Kingston. Kingston has just recently claimed to gain some control over the crime sprees that have been going on for months. 73 civilians and 3 officers were killed in street battles primarily due to a drug war.

The 26 year-old man who has not yet been identified as his relatives have not yet been notified. But Dane Lewis, director of the advocacy group says the young man’s life had been under threat for some time.

Having myself been a victim of violent anti-gay crime in Nassau, Bahamas – it is no secret that the very Christian and conservative islands have long-held negative views of homosexuality. In 2004, Brian Williams, the country’s leading gay rights advocate was murdered in his home – his body was found with multiple knife wounds. Outside the crime scene, citizens cheered the murder. Much of the bigotry stems from the country’s sexist and homophobic laws which imprison sexual relations between two men, but allow for two women to be in a relationship. Gay men can be imprisoned for ten years. And while lesbians don’t face the criminal charges, the anti-gay violence remains for them.

Gay as a Football Bat: Why Does FIFA Hate Us?

3 Dec

Many of us spent several days trying to escape the FIFA-fever that came over the world this past summer as the World Cup was being fought for. Many of us also spent several hours, crowded into hot, sweaty bars, watching intently as the hot, sweaty players kicked and head-butted the ball across the field. It was an event that was watched by millions of gay and straight people alike.

Yesterday, we heard the news that FIFA announced the location of the 2022 World Cup would be Qatar, a Middle Eastern country with 1.7 million people (which is smaller than the state of Connecticut). While normally, the location of a World Cup series would not be of much interest to Talk About Equality, there’s something quite troubling about this choice.

You see, in Qatar it is illegal to be gay (or at least to “commit acts of homosexuality”). By choosing Qatar to host the games, FIFA has stated quite plainly that it does not care about football’s gay fans (or players).

Just a few days after German footballer Mario Gomez urged gay players to come out, FIFA is telling its players quite the opposite.

Russia was chosen to host the 2018 games. And though Russia does not have the same laws banning homosexuality that Qatar does, one must note that Russia’s capital Moscow has banned gay pride marches and parades for years. They even went so far as to expell the organizer of the gay pride parade out of Russia.

German Footballer Mario Gomez Urges Gay Players to Come Out of the Closet

What would happen if gay players, their allies, their fans, the companies that sponsor the teams were to boycott the games due to the bigoted laws on gays these countries hold? The world is changing pretty quickly, and hell 2018 and 2022 are 8 and 12 years away – might there be an opportunity here to create some real change?

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